Fitness Friday: Alison Sweeney’s Top 5 Tips for a Body Makeover

Who watches the Biggest Loser and wants a body makeover? Alison Sweeney is more than just the host of The Biggest Loser—she lives the show’s healthy lifestyle. Alison Sweeney built an exclusive 30-day plan for Health magazine featuring her favorite tips, moves, and recipes, including lessons she’s learned from celebrity trainers Bob Harper and Jillian Michaels. Here are Alison’s top 5 tips for a body makeover:

1. Scrap all unrealistic expectations.

“I’m not a fan of having a supermodel on your refrigerator…Nobody is going to all of a sudden, at 40, look like an 18-year-old model. Set your goals to positive things. Instead of thinking, ‘I need to work out because I want to lose weight,” I’m thinking, ‘I have to run a 26.2-mile race, so I have to run. Today. Now.’”

2. Don’t put off what you can do today.

“When I do one thing that’s good, I immediately start to feel better. I don’t wait for Monday. I don’t wait for a holiday. I don’t wait for my birthday. I don’t wait for January 1. I start right now.”

3. Make Alison’s chopped salad for dinner.

“A friend of mine brought over a vegetable salad that was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Just cut up cooked broccoli, asparagus, green beans, raw carrots, and roasted corn into neat little chopped bits and add cilantro and avocado, then toss it. The fat from the avocado and a little bit of salt – that’s the dressing. It’s so good and so refreshing!”

4. If you crave sugar tonight, go to bed early.

“One thing I learned from Jillian [Michaels] is that when you’re tired, you crave sugar because your brain needs sugar to sustain itself. So when you’re tired, one of the first symptoms is that you’ll look for something sugary to eat because you’re trying to stay awake. So think of it that way, instead of, ‘Oh, I’m so weak-willed.’ It’s not that. Close your eyes! You need rest.”

5. Put out your sneakers tonight to taunt you tomorrow.

“If my sneakers are out, they’re like, ‘Pick me, pick me!’”

For the full plan, please visit Health Magazine 

Fitness Friday: 7 Reasons Why to Hire a Personal Trainer

Should you hire a personal trainer? l have so many friends who always ask if they should or shouldn’t, and I asked Matt Crane, owner of L.I.F.E. Fitness why anyone should hire or need a personal trainer Here’s what Matt had to say, “I’m not a fan of the title, “Personal Trainer.” Technically, I am one, but that is such a small part of what I do. “Coach, therapist, counselor, and friend are only a few of the titles that comes from being a “trainer.” I pride myself in improving and reshaping my clients quality of life while helping them live life to the fullest, full of purpose, meaning and with boldness. The name of my business, L.I.F.E, means Living in Fitness Everyday, and I have a passion to spread this message to as many people as I can.

1) Personal Trainers create safe, effective, and efficient training programs: First and foremost, your health and safety should be at the forefront of any exercise plan. I see it all too often. People get excited about working out and getting in shape and try to do it on their own, but commonly end up with frustration, feeling lost, or worse, injured. My clients go through an extensive initial assessment to identify areas of weakness/strength, fill out medical/past injury/background information, and complete a par-q (physical readiness questionnaire).  Taking all of these variables into account, I sit down with everyone and devise a customized plan designed specifically for the clients’ unique needs, goals, time constraints, and other influencing factors.  Once you have a plan in place, a trainer can ensure that you are getting maximum results out of the effort you are putting in.  By following a challenging, dynamic, and efficient training plan, you are ensured to constantly be evolving and overcoming plateaus when you reach them.

2) A trainer can provide guidance with your nutrition: Regardless of your goal, nutrition is by far the most important piece of a successful training program, easily being 75-80% of what will determine if you achieve the goals you have set for yourself.

3) A trainer helps you set REALISTIC and attainable goals: Many times people set goals for themselves that aren’t feasible.  When they fall short, they get disappointed, discouraged, and can lead to their quitting the program altogether.  A trainer, through experience and knowing your individual needs, can help you set, adjust, and track your progress through a number of different ways.  By setting realistic, attainable goals for yourself, you set yourself up for success by achieving small milestones that add up to big change.  I preach to my clients, “SMALL CHANGES, BIG RESULTS!”

4) A trainer provides accountability:  As with anything else we do in life, when you have someone you are accountable to, you are more likely to complete the task at hand.  Having that person there (that you have paid for), waiting for you to show up is a huge motivating factor for making it to the gym to get your workout in. Let’s face it, there never seems to be enough time in the day and we can always find an excuse NOT to do something, it is crucial to have that built in accountability.

5) A trainer provides guidance and knowledge beyond the gym:  The reality is that we only get to see our clients an average of 3 hours or so per week, so the overwhelming majority of your success depends on how prepared you are the other 165 hours during the week.  By having a trainer who helps you during those crucial hours outside of the gym, you are going to be much more likely to make the right choices.

6) A trainer provides motivation and encouragement:  In times of frustration, disappointment, or lack of will, a trainer will motivate you to keep pushing when you would otherwise give up.  Whether it be that extra pushup, that last 30 seconds of cardio, or simply receiving encouraging words via text or through a phone call, a trainer will encourage you to reach your full potential and not give up when you feel you’ve reached your limit.

7)  A trainer INSPIRES you: Having a trainer will inspire you to work toward your goals, reach heights you never thought possible, and ultimately be an inspiration for someone else.  We can ALL be better, and a trainer should inspire you to be the best YOU that YOU can be!  In doing so, you will begin to make a difference in others live as well.  I always teach my clients that they should give the gift they have been given and inspire others- a sort of “pay it forward” mentality.  You never know who is watching or who may be inspired by what you are doing with your life.  Be, live, and give inspiration!

Matt trains clients at Icon Performance. For more information, you can contact Matt at:

Website: www.lifefitnessbham.com

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/cranelifefitness

Email:  matt@lifefitnessbham.com

Boosting Your Metabolism: Speaking Event Saturday

How can you boost your metabolism? I’ll be speaking this weekend at Bikram Yoga Birmingham on Saturday at 11:15 (immediately after the 9:30 class) on this important topic. I’ll be talking about the top foods, drinks, tips and types of workouts that will maximize your metabolism to its fullest potential. If you can’t attend, check out my “small group coaching series online” this month being held online for The FoodLife Project.

Fitness Friday: Lululemon Giveaway

Happy Fitness Friday. Since it’s my birthday week, I thought I would offer a fun giveaway for an awesome tank from lululemon athletica. We are so lucky to have a lululemon athletica store in Birmingham so check out their Facebook page. If you live in town, did you know that they offer yoga at their store every sunday night from 6 to 7 p.m? The class is taught by a different local yoga instructor each week. Fun, huh? If you’re in town, be sure to check it out! Back to my giveaway… To enter to win one of their latest tanks (it might not be these exact ones pictured, but it will be one of their latest tank tops), leave a comment telling me what type of yoga you would like to try or how yoga has impacted your life. Also do the following below for extra chances to win and leave me a comment letting me know you did. One lucky winner will be drawn on Tuesday, March 13th at 8 a.m CST. Good Luck!

1. Like Ingredients Inc on Facebook

2. Follow Alison Lewis on Twitter

3. Follow Alison lewis on Pinterest

4. Subscribe to Ingredients, Inc. via email

5. Like FoodLife Project on Facebook

6. Sign up for The FoodLife Project  first “small group series” for 10 chances to win.

 

Fitness Friday: To Stretch or Not To Stretch

So, I am a runner, spinner, tennis player, and I do strength training, but I never know what the true rule is on “to stretch or not to stretch”. I decide to take this question to a pro. I had a talk with Kirk Kaps, a Certified Athletic Trainer at Champion Sports Medicine, who works daily with professional athletes (and small unknown athletes like me.) He told me this, “In the past, we have always heard that is important for us to make sure we stretch our muscles very well before physical activity. Before this could occur, it was told that we must get a good warm-up in order to get a good stretch for the muscle groups when they are considered “cold” muscles. One recent study, performed in 2011, concluded that if you normally stretch and warm up before running, then by all means, continue that. But, if you’re a runner who doesn’t stretch at all, and still gets in a good warm-up, then continue your routine. In essence, each athlete should continue their own routine, but they should continue to get a 3 to 5 minute warm-up before they start their activity.” I hope this helps when you are stumped with this same question.

You can find this study at: http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/news/20110217/stretch-before-running-new-twist-on-old-debate

Photo via Pinterest

Fitness Friday: Toughest Workout DVD of 2012

What is the toughest workout DVD out there? Insanity Workout is a 60-day home-based workout video program designed by the company Beach Body, which also produces other popular workout DVDs such as P90X. Insanity is possibly the most difficult, cardiovascular-based DVD workout program on the market today, due to its strenuous pace. It is a total body, circuit training workout that uses only your body weight as resistance. The plan involves a schedule of six days of exercise per week, and each workout will take approximately 30 to 60 minutes to complete. All that is required to perform each INSANITY workout is a TV, DVD player, a good pair of tennis shoes, and sheer willpower. I am dying to try this!

Photo above via pineterst

Favorite Recipes and Healthy Blog Posts of 2011

Happy New Year everyone! It has been a blast to work on my blog this past year, and I appreciate everyone’s continued support. Breakfast Almond and Raspberry Quinoa (pictured above) was one of my top recipes of the year, and here are some other favorite blog posts of 2011 from my site:

Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins

Panko Fish Sticks with Edamame Salsa

No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Saucepan Popcorn and Healthy Back to School Snacks

3 Ingredient Peppermint Milkshakes

10 Health Benefits of Blackberries

Best Foods for Runners

Health Benefits of Cherries

How To Get Lean

10 Reasons Why to Love Yoga

Top 10 Ways to Find Balance in Your Life

Is The Mediterranean Diet the Healthiest Diet?

The Mediterranean diet has been called the “healthiest” diet of all, and my brother, Craig, a physician, sites research to his patients quite often as the most highly recommended diet. As a Nutritionist, I have studied a lot about it too, but when I was in Italy last month, I became a true believer. I traveled for seven full days in Italy eating six and eight course meals for lunch and dinner served with wine. I also didn’t exercise the entire week (very unlike me). When I came home and realized I actually lost weight, I was stumped. I thought about what ingredients comprised those extravagant meals, and I realized how pure all the food was. This shot was taken on my trip touring the beautiful land of the Le Marche Region of Italy.

Some Key Components of the Mediterranean Diet Include:

1. Plenty of exercise

2. Eating primarily plant based foods

3. Replacing butter with olive and canola oils

4. Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods

5. Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month. Eat more vegetables.

6. Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week.

7. Drinking red wine in moderation.

8. Eat fruit for dessert

9. Eat small portions of high-quality foods.

10. Eat yogurt and cheese as your main dairy products.

11. This diet conveys the importance of enjoying meals with friends and family.

Top Foods on The Mediterranean Diet

-Fish and Seafood

-Olive oil or canola oil

-Fruits and Vegetables

-Nuts

-Beans

-Cereal

-Red wine

Rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, cereals, fish oil and even red wine, this diet is lower in saturated fat and has been said to reduce risks of cancers, heart disease and more.

Other Great Attributes about a Mediterranean diet:

1) A diet rich in fruits, grains, nuts, can reduce risk of obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and alzheimers.

2) This diet is high in fiber which is great for decreased risk of diabetes and stomach issues.

3) This diet is filled with a good supply of mono-unsaturated fats found in fish, avocados, olive and canola oil which can help fight disease from the cellular level.

4) This is a diet people can stick to and actually enjoy.

Great Family Healthy Site & Sports Authority $100 Giveaway: Together Counts

Being a full-time working mom with 3 kids isn’t always easy. I am very fortunate that my company, daily work and passion revolves around food, health and lifestyle. I am so excited to be a part of the Together Counts campaign asking families across the country to take a pledge to get healthy and active. Together Counts believes that the most powerful way of gaining a healthy lifestyle is by working together as a family. Eating meals together as well as being physically active together can only make families healthier and happier.

 

The Together Counts program empowers families and helps them balance and learn lifelong healthy habits. Just go on the website and take a pledge of how many meals you will eat together as a family and the amount of physical exercise you will do as a family. Teamwork is the theme. This site really helps keep you on track.

 

As part of this campaign, I would like to offer $100 gift card to Sports Authority to one lucky winner.  This giveaway is sponsored by Together Counts. Just take the pledge on Together Counts and leave a comment of your favorite way to exercise as a family or your favorite healthy family dinner. Winner will be drawn on Friday, May 27th.

Note: I was compensated for my participation in the Together Counts campaign. The giveaway was sponsored by Together Counts. All opinions expressed in this post are 100% mine.

How to Get Lean?

Everyone wants to have a lean body, but how do we achieve it? I did some research to figure out what I am personally doing right and wrong, and here’s what I’ve found. If you have any other tips to offer, please share in the comment area below.

1. Strength Training-Adding strength training to your exercise program will help build lean muscles. Whether you use free weights, machines, body weight, or resistance bands, you will increase lean muscle, reduce body fat and burn more calories efficiently.

2. Eat more protein-Eating protein will help create lean muscle. Create your meals around protein. Identify what protein you are going to have and work your meals around that.

3. Do more yoga-In yoga, muscles are strengthened and elongated so you will not bulk up as much, but get a tone and flexible body.

4. Front-load your carbohydrates-Reduce the number of carbohydrates you eat as the day goes on. Studies show that your body’s ability to metabolize carbs drops as the day goes on, so more can end up stored as fat. My trainer, Jeff Green, from Icon Performance, says “Cut out all carbs after 3 p.m.” Wow is that hard, but if you can do it, you will see a difference.

5. Limit sugar, white flour and alcohol-These foods are quickly digested which causes blood sugar to rise. This stimulates the release of the hormone insulin, which signals your body to stop burning fat (and storing it instead).

6. Eat more frequently and eat smart-Nutritionist and Fitness Expert Sandra Koulourides, of “Fuel Plus Fitness”, suggests eating lean protein, good fat, veggies and fruit. Also, eating more frequent smaller meals with help curb cravings and splurging

7. Drink more water-Staying hydrated with water will help your body stay energized as well as help you cut down on soft drinks and caffeine.

8. Cardio and Interval Training-Do at least 30 minutes of cardio at least 5 days a week and stay consistent. Mix this with interval training, and you’ll rev up your metabolism even more.

9. Get more sleep-Refueling and resting your body often helps muscles rebuild. Get at least 8 hours of sleep (and 9 if possible) and take a day or two off a week.

10. Read labels-Don’t just look at protein and carbs, but take note at fiber, sodium, fat and how much sugar is in what you’re eating.